Call for answers over next steps on Victoria Park

Earlier in August, Portsmouth Labour set out the facts about the future of the popular Victoria Park after the city council proposed a new action plan.

We welcomed this commitment to enhance and upgrade the park for the benefit of all local people. Like many in the community, we care about the future of this scarce and important public space in the heart of our city.

Now we call for greater clarity over how the future of the park will be shaped, including securing the Arts Lodge’s future.

The park’s animals and birds

Portsmouth Labour is pleased that there is now an agreement to preserve an aviary in the park, which has been a feature much loved by the community over the years. The council has confirmed this in a public statement, which is available to view on its website. If the council does not honour this commitment, then your local Labour party will hold decision-makers to account.

A secure future for the Arts Lodge

We note that there is less clarity about the Lodge and its tenants, the Art & Soul Traders. Labour is keen to see the council give a clear and public expression of support for the Traders.

The future of their tenancy is uncertain, and a number of alternative uses for the building have been rumoured – from a day centre, to a cafe run by people with learning disabilities.

At a time of cuts to services, it isn’t clear to us how such changes might be funded. The future of the Lodge needs to be determined so all of this uncertainty can end.

Your local Labour Party are involved in the campaign to save the Arts Lodge, from liaising with the Arts Lodge team to helping fundraising efforts.

Silvi Veale, a local Labour and community activist is one such volunteer. She says:

“As a community arts and music venue with cafe, the Arts Lodge has offered community members the opportunity to get involved in a number of arts projects which benefit the city. It is also loved and cherished by Portsmouth people as a place to meet others and enjoy a beautiful, peaceful space in this busy, noisy city. It needs to stay in Victoria Park, under the tenancy of Art & Soul Traders who carry out this vital work, and Labour will continue this fight.”

Give the public their say

Cllr Stephen Morgan, deputy leader of the Labour group on Portsmouth City Council, is calling for decision-makers at the council to provide greater detail about their full plans for the park. He says:

“I urge the council to confirm that the promised public consultation on the future of Victoria Park will be open, transparent and wide-ranging. I ask them to recognise that the public have concerns about the plans and the sooner these are out for consultation the better.”

On the Arts Lodge, Cllr Morgan added:

“The Labour Group is committed to securing the best possible community benefit from the Lodge building, together with a strong and sustainable future for the Art & Soul Traders. They provide a valuable service and run a great facility in the heart of Portsmouth. The local party wants to see them stay”.

What next?

Portsmouth Labour through its activists and councillors will continue to work with others to monitor this situation as it develops, speak to stakeholders concerned, and work hard to try and keep the current Lodge tenants in their home.

If you have any further information or insights into future plans and possibilities for the park, please get in touch with us.